Researchers recently analyzed what factors may be associated with fatigue experienced by women with ovarian and endometrial cancers.
“Fatigue is a common and distressing symptom for patients with gynecologic cancers. Few studies have empirically examined whether it spontaneously resolves,” the researchers wrote. “This study was aimed at identifying longitudinal patterns of fatigue and predictors of clinically significant fatigue 1 year after treatment completion.”
For the study, women with newly diagnosed ovarian (n=81) or endometrial (n=181) cancer that showed no progression or recurrence within a year of completing treatment. The Fatigue Assessment Scale and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale were used to evaluate symptoms of fatigue, depression, and anxiety postoperatively and six and 12 months after treatment was completed. Fatigue scores overtime were classified as follows: 22 to 50, clinically significant; 10 to 21, not clinically significant.
Of the total 262 patients, just under half (48%) experienced clinically significant fatigue postoperatively. One year later, fatigue was reported by 39%. The researchers observed six patterns over time: always low (37%), always high (25%), high then resolves (18%), new onset (10%), fluctuating (6%), and incidental (5%). Women who had postoperative fatigue, compared to women who did not report postoperative fatigue, had a higher likelihood of reporting fatigue at 12 months (odds ratio [OR]=6.08; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.82 to 13.11; P<0.001). Only about a third of fatigued women reported symptoms of depression, but women who had depressive symptoms were more likely to experience fatigue (OR=3.36; 95% CI, 1.08 to 10.65; P=0.039).
The study appeared in Cancer.
The researchers summarized, “Nearly half of women with gynecologic cancers had clinically significant fatigue after surgery, whereas 44% and 39% had fatigue 6 months and 1 year later; this suggests that spontaneous regression of symptoms is relatively rare. Women who reported fatigue, depressive symptoms, or 2 or more medical comorbidities had higher odds of reporting fatigue 1 year later. Future studies should test scalable interventions to improve fatigue in women with gynecologic cancers.”